Sustainability in retail: How to source sustainable retail fittings

sustainability in retail

Sustainability isn’t necessarily the first thing you think about when it comes to designing retail displays.

However, as we become more and more aware of climate change it is increasingly becoming a priority for many in the industry to think of sustainability in retail. As customers become more eco-conscious, they are expecting retailers to be making an effort to avoid waste and conserve energy.

A recent study found that 85 per cent of retailers believe sustainability in retail is important to their brand, and customers seem to agree. The same research found that 60 per cent of consumers would be more likely to buy something if it was demonstrably sustainable. However, despite this, only 61 per cent of brands use sustainable retail displays.

There are always ways in which you can improve when it comes to being more eco friendly, and investing in this is just good business sense. In addition to being more appealing to potential customers, sustainability in retail ideas such as sustainable displays are also likely to cost you less in terms of materials and energy. So how can you make sure you’re sourcing sustainable fittings?

Sustainability In Retail: Source Responsible Materials

1. Types of materials

The first step to achieving sustainability in retail is to look at the materials your displays are made of. Could you replace any of them with recycled versions, for example? This can be easier or harder depending on what you’re using. A simple cardboard display can very easily be made sustainable, for example, but something more elaborate will require a bit more work.  

2. Recycling

If you are already using cardboard displays there are many more ways to make these even more environmentally friendly. Ensuring that the unit can be easily recycled once used or even getting the raw materials from an eco-friendly supplier. Many cities around the world now offer some kind pick-up and recycle service from the local council or authority. Partnering with these services would help towards your goal of sustainability and save you the cost of disposing a defunct retail unit.  

3. Reduce carbon emissions

However, there are also a few smaller details that often get overlooked when designing sustainable retail displays. For example, where are your materials from, and how are they produced? If you’re getting them from far away, it will increase the amount of carbon emissions associated with your display. You should also check how things like paints and adhesives are produced to ensure you’re choosing the least environmentally harmful option.

Sustainability in Retail: Thınk About Energy

4. Manufacturing

There are various aspects of retail displays that require energy. These can be obvious, such as any lighting elements or even moving parts, but plenty of other aspects of retail displays require power that can be reduced or taken from sustainable sources. One example is manufacturing; opting for a simpler design requires less manufacturing time, therefore cutting down on the amount of energy used by your display overall.  

5. Shipping & distribution

Reviewing the shipping and distribution process could also be another excellent way to lower your energy consumption. Extending lead times so you can take longer but more energy efficient modes of transport. The cost saving by switching could also be significant for your project.  

6. Energy consumption

Other options could include adding a timer on your display, so it automatically stops consuming energy when the store closes. Of course, the store in which the display is located also contributes to this. The lighting, heating or air conditioning and other fixtures all require energy, and this can come from sustainable sources. If you own a store, consider using solar panels on your roof or getting in touch with a supplier that can provide electricity from sustainable sources.

Sustainability in Retail: Use The Natural World

7. Nature

There’s one easy element you can incorporate into your displays that is accessible, sustainable and eye-catching: nature. Few brands are doing this, but where possible it is a good idea to use the natural world. Plants, for example, can be incorporated into your retail fittings to make them look more distinctive and even to improve the air quality. 

8. Reclaimed wood

Opting for designs that use reclaimed wood is another great way to bring nature into your store. There has been a surge in reclaimed wood dealers over the last few years as more businesses seek to use sustainable sources of wood. These dealers can be found locally and often will sell raw materials at a fraction of what they should normally be. The logistics for doing this for multiple branches could be tricky but the payoff could be very much worth it. Every store would have a unique looking unit in branch and these units would have a long life cycle.  

9. Natural light

Similarly, natural light is a great option for achieving sustainability in retail. Large store windows can be used to make the retail experience bright and appealing. Your electric lights can even be connected to a sensor, so they only come on when the natural light dims below a certain level. That way, you’re not only being more sustainable, you’re also saving on your electricity bill. 


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